Going Vegan is the latest and the fastest growing trend in India and around the globe. Our bollywood celebrities and cricketers like Virat Kohli have turned vegan and said that it has helped increase his performance.
With the current trending Netflix documentar “Game Changers” more and more people are turning towards a plant-based diet.
Before you think of joining the veganism cult, let’s answer what veganism really means! The Vegan society defines veganism as
“a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”
Vegans follow a plant-based diet that means excluding meat, eggs, dairy, honey and all other ingredients made from animals. There a several health benefits associated with following a plant-based or vegan diet so let’s have a look at what the research has to say.
A plant-based diet and its association with diabetes reveal that it helps in reductions in A1C, body weight, plasma lipid concentrations, and urinary albumin excretion. Medically stable participants on a vegan diet showed a greater change in A1C, weight, BMI, waist circumference, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.
The mechanism by which this occurs is because vegan diets are low in fat and high in fiber which results in decreased dietary energy density and energy intake leading to weight loss and subsequently effect the A1c levels in vegans (1,2).
A low-fat vegan diet increases insulin sensitivity in cells, allowing cells to metabolize glucose more quickly rather than storing it as body fat.
As a result, vegan diets have been shown to increase postprandial calorie burn by about 16%, up to 3 h after consuming a meal.
Dietary fiber can lower the glycemic index of carbohydrates by slowing the absorption of glucose from the intestine. In addition, dietary fiber can improve glycemic control by increasing bile acid excretion, and increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids via the bacterial fermentation of fiber.
Another explanation may involve the reduced exposure to POPs by vegan diets through the prohibition of animal food. Recently, background exposure to low-dose POPs has been found to be an important risk factor of developing T2D.
Furthermore, these chemicals are associated with poor glycemic control among T2D patients , and with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, which are the most common complications of T2D.
Hence, avoiding animal food contaminated with POPs may offer additional benefit for T2D patients.(5)
A popular GEICO study assessed the benefits of vegan diet in working corporate and the clinical trials have proven that low-fat plant-based diet reduced body weight and blood pressure and improved glycemic control.
The reductions in circulating levels of total and LDL cholesterol observed with plant-based diets are caused by the absence of animal fat, as well as by the lipid-lowering effect of certain plant-based foods.
Randomized control trials with low-fat vegetarian diets showing decreases in HDL cholesterol are not associated with a poor cardiovascular health in observational studies, and have been shown to improve atherosclerotic lesions and cardiac events despite lowering of HDL cholesterol (3).
Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome:
The preliminary results in PCOS suffering women suggest that adoption of a vegan diet may be effective for promoting short-term weight loss; however, a larger trial that addresses potential high attrition rates is needed to confirm these results (6)
Previous studies show that diets enriched with omega-3 fats and plant proteins tend to decrease subjective complaints of pain in rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
The primary mechanism by which diet reduces subjective pain may be a result of normalization of the fatty acid profile and reduction in exposure to inflammatory protein precursors.
Western diets are high in arachidonic acid, which are modified into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Arachidonic acid is found in animal foods and some vegetable oils.
Therefore, the adoption of a plant-based diet will dramatically reduce the availability of precursors necessary to produce painful prostaglandins(10)
On the other hand…….
Observational studies have shown that people following a plant-based diet have significantly lower prevalence of obesity, hypertension, Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer as compared to people following a non-vegetarian diet.
But on the other hand it also has some drawbacks related to micronutrient deficiencies and managing your protein intake. A vegan diet provides iron in its nonheme form, which is somewhat less absorbable than heme iron. This leads to lesser iron storage in the body and can result in anemia.
A study observed the changes in blood parameters with different diets typically vegan, pesco-veg, semi-veg and omnivorous diets for 6 months.
The study showed that although vegans decreased their percent energy from protein and also reduced their fat and saturated fat intake as compared to other diet groups there were no significant changes amongst the groups other than vegans showing a greater decrease in cholesterol (4)
Another study reveals that Asian Indians living in the US have a higher risk of stroke following a vegetarian diet. The reason being no change in dietary lifestyle after migrating to US, lesser physical activity and sedentary lifestyle.
Vegetarian status was a protective factor and lowered the risk for diabetes but not for metabolic syndrome and obesity indicating a genetic predisposition (9).
In conclusion, in a controlled trial, the consumption of a low-fat, vegan diet was associated with significant weight reduction, along with improvements in measures of glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, and improvement in lipid profile(7,8).
One also must consider that veganism is a lifestyle and not just a dietary choice so don’t just hop on the band-wagon and be a part of the herd just because everyone is going vegan; do it for the right reasons.
If you are doing it as an activism against environment and animals make sure that you do not even use leather, fur, silk and products made from animals like cosmetics, etc.
Before terming yourself as a “vegan” choose whether it’s a decision to change your lifestyle or just the dietary pattern; if so say you are on a “plant-based diet”.
Consult a nutritionist before following a plant-based diet who will educate you about the diet and if you really need it and help you gradually transition into the diet so that you don’t find yourself with a lack of food options, and an unbalanced diet which could lead to development of micronutrient deficiencies.
You can’t just eat potatoes, be a couch potato, claim to be a vegan and expect to see the benefits of the diet. It requires proper planning and efforts on your behalf. Call us on 9743430000 or write to us at https://quanutrition.com/Contact.html. for a customized and monitored vegan diet plan.
Ryan Fernando is an Award-winning celebrity Sports Nutritionist with 2GUINNESS world record and 2 Olympic medals under his belt. His client list include Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar, cricketer Shikhar Dhawan & bollywood superstars Aamir Khan & Abhishek Bachchan. He is Chief Nutritionist at QUA Nutrition Signature Clinics.
1.Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJA, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Jaster B, et al. A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006;29(8):1777–83.
2.Turner-McGrievy GM, Barnard ND, Scialli AR. A two-year randomized weight loss trial comparing a vegan diet to a more moderate low-fat diet. Obesity. 2007;15(9):2276–81.
3.Mishra S, Xu J, Agarwal U, Gonzales J, Levin S, Barnard ND. A multicenter randomized controlled trial of a plant-based nutrition program to reduce body weight and cardiovascular risk in the corporate setting: The GEICO study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;67(7):718–24.
4.Turner-McGrievy GM, Davidson CR, Wingard EE, Wilcox S, Frongillo EA. Comparative effectiveness of plant-based diets for weight loss: A randomized controlled trial of five different diets. Nutrition. 2015 Feb 1;31(2):350–8.
5.Lee YM, Kim SA, Lee IK, Kim JG, Park KG, Jeong JY, et al. Effect of a brown rice based vegan diet and conventional diabetic diet on glycemic control of patients with type 2 diabetes: A 12-week randomized clinical trial. In: PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science; 2016.
6.Turner-McGrievy GM, Davidson CR, Wingard EE, Billings DL. Low glycemic index vegan or low-calorie weight loss diets for women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled feasibility study. Nutr Res. 2014;34(6):552–8.
7.Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Turner-McGrievy G, Lanou AJ, Glass J. The effects of a low-fat, plant-based dietary intervention on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Am J Med. 2005 Sep;118(9):991–7.
8.Nenonen MT, Helve TA, Rauma AL, Hänninen OO. Uncooked, lactobacilli-rich, vegan food and rheumatoid arthritis. Br J Rheumatol. 1998;37(3):274–81.
9.Misra R, Balagopal P, Raj S, Patel TG. Vegetarian diet and cardiometabolic risk among Asian Indians in the United States. J Diabetes Res. 2018;2018.
10.Clinton CM, O’Brien S, Law J, Renier CM, Wendt MR. Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet Alleviates the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis. Arthritis. 2015 Feb 28;2015:1–9.